No matter what your age, if you don't have a "bucket list", (you know, the things you want to do before you kick the bucket), now is the time to start your personal list. It may be important to put your genealogy research near the top of the list. Now "is" the time, especially if it is something you always wanted to do, while there are people and resources that can still answer your questions.

As one year draws to a close and a new one begins, we are reminded to take stock of the year we left behind.

It is exciting to plan for what we expect the new year to hold. Usually, the best starting point is examining what we had planned to do in the past year and where we fell short of it.

Some may call them resolutions, but I prefer to call them goals. Were they written down? Were the goals realistic to begin with? Were they manageable? Most of all, did you create a plan to get there? If your answer is no to any of these questions, chances are good that you were not able to make it a reality.

The best of intentions will not make it viable unless we make a plan.

However, there is no good to be gained from beating yourself up over perceived failures. Think of it as just a delayed plan and vow to make the new year the best it can be. We are in charge. Will this be the year we make major changes in our lives? Will it be the year we finally accomplish one or more of our goals? Even if we don't get there by the end of the coming year, it will still be a goal to work on in the next. Be sure to put any unfinished business near the top of your list for the new year.

There have no doubt been many joys, sorrows, and perhaps some disappointments. These sorrows are a normal part of life. It is what we learn from them and how we use the experience that makes a difference in our lives, just as it did in the lives of our ancestors. To achieve balance in our lives, the plan should include multiple areas. The first thing to do is to make a list of goals for each area of our life. Remember to set goals high enough so that you have something to reach for, but again, keep in mind they must be realistic in order to be achievable.

Goal planning should be written down.

Suggestion: write these categories on a sheet of notebook paper in a vertical column:

Health, Spirituality, Family, Career, Financial, Relationships, Education and don't forget to include, Fun and Leisure ... this includes making time for yourself and doing some of those things that you really want to do for your emotional health.

Then at the top, create a horizontal column of timelines, with at least three headings or more. Be specific as to what you want and by when you want to accomplish it. If we don't have a goal in mind, we probably aren't going to get there any time soon. They would be: Short term, meaning soon; Intermediate, say within six months; Long term, eventually; but with a time frame in mind.

Now, fill it in and be honest with yourself. For each area, under the timelines, list the steps that will make them manageable. Some may be revealed as you go along, and that's okay. Make a list of possible setbacks and possible remedies. Now you have a plan. Include notes as you go along and be flexible. Review and revise your list at least every couple of weeks, making necessary adjustments.

Nothing is more satisfying than seeing your progress become a reality both in person and on paper. The only person who can change our reality is "ourselves". Taking personal responsibility is one of the most challenging but rewarding things we can ever do.

Unless you are a person who has time to fill, obviously you are not able to make use of all the ideas and suggestions that have been presented throughout these pages. However, I hope you have been able to make use of as many of them as you could fit in to your lifestyle to make your research a little easier and a lot more fun. It is always later than we think.

If you are excited to get started on your personal quest, or for further information on researching and preserving your heritage, my book, "Heritage Quest, Uncovering Your Roots" is now available on Amazon, under my pen name of Jami Lynn Sands. Or to reserve and arrange for a signed copy, please call 740 584-5673.

You are invited to submit queries for publication for information on your ancestry to Heritage Quest, c/o The Daily Jeffersonian, P.O. Box 10, Cambridge, OH 43725. No phone calls, please.

Remember to include their name, area they lived in, approximate dates, and any other pertinent information, as well as your first name and phone contact number.

You may contact me with questions, comments or suggestions or submit queries by e-mail to me at linann22@gmail.com. Neither this newspaper nor the author of this column assume any responsibility for the validity of information submitted by the public.

Linda Warrick is a native of Guernsey County. She enjoys genealogy, historical research and scrapbooking.